Photo: Jasmine Freeman’s research, “Utilizing the Continuous and Absorption Spectrum to Calculate the Components of Stars,” recently won first place at the 2023 Southwest Georgia Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Summit Juried Poster Competition in Columbus. She is a senior from Shelby, North Carolina, who anticipates earning a Bachelor of Science in Astronomy and a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Valdosta State University in May 2025.
VALDOSTA – A Valdosta State University senior recently won first place at the 2023 Southwest Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.
Jasmine Freeman’s research, “Utilizing the Continuous and Absorption Spectrum to Calculate the Components of Stars,” recently won first place at the 2023 Southwest Georgia Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Summit Juried Poster Competition in Columbus.
A Valdosta State University senior from Shelby, North Carolina, Freeman said the LSAMP Summit experience has inspired her to attend additional academic events and gradually pursue more complex research topics. She plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Astronomy and a Bachelor of Science in Physics in May 2025.
“Jasmine is very talented, bright, easy to work with, always positive, and ‘shooting for the moon,’” shared Dr. Martha Leake, a professor of astronomy and physics in VSU’s College of Science and Mathematics and Freeman’s mentor. “She’s ambitious.”
“Our project on spectra of bright stars started with simple equipment and methods that can progress to more complex equipment and analyses,” she continued. “This technique is the basis of astronomy. Our targets are so far away, but by gathering their light and separating it into its component colors — the spectrum — we can at least determine the star’s surface temperature and spectral class. With more detailed spectra we can determine the size, composition, speed, and many other pieces of the puzzle.”
Leake said she really enjoyed seeing Freeman’s final poster and listening to her discuss her research strategies and methods for the LSAMP Summit.
“I look forward to working with Jasmine as she continues her studies and interests,” she added. When not attending class or conducting research, Freeman serves as a peer alliance learning facilitator for students in Leake’s astronomy classes.
Throughout the two-day LSAMP Summit, Freeman had an opportunity to learn more about a variety of topics, including how to form research partnerships with librarians, how to turn challenges in opportunities, and how to create her own lane when pursuing a career in STEM.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the LSAMP initiative is designed to assist institutions of higher education in diversifying the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by increasing the number of STEM degrees awarded to populations historically underrepresented in those disciplines — women, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders.
The Southwest Georgia LSAMP, formally known as the Southwest Georgia STEM Pathways Alliance, includes VSU, Columbus State University, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Georgia Southwestern State University, and Columbus Technical College. VSU’s program is housed in the College of Science and Mathematics.
Through LSAMP, VSU faculty and staff are working to support underrepresented students and others facing barriers to success in STEM disciplines.
Participating students benefit academically, personally, and financially. The LSAMP program allows them to get more involved in their academic major and acquire practical hands-on experience in their chosen career field — all while developing deeper mentoring relationships with faculty, current practitioners, and leaders in the scientific fields.
Freeman said LSAMP at VSU has given her more confidence and made it easier for her to make friends and form meaningful connections with her classmates and professors. She said the program even introduced her to scientists who work at NASA.
“The coordinators are extremely helpful, and my college experience has improved tremendously,” she added.
According to recent research by the Pew Research Center, better minority representation in the STEM workforce is sorely needed. While African American workers comprise 11 percent of total employment across all occupations, they comprise only 9 percent of STEM workers and represent just 5 percent of engineers and 7 percent of workers in computer occupations. While Hispanic workers make up 17 percent of the total workforce across all occupations, they comprise only 8 percent of the STEM workforce.
Pay gaps for women and minorities working in STEM fields — when compared to their male and white counterparts — are equally pervasive.
The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation was established in 1991 and named in honor of former United States Congressman Louis Stokes, who spent his life serving and defending those in need. Stokes, the first African American congressman elected in the state of Ohio, served 15 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his 30 years in Congress, he was one of the Cold War-era chairmen of the House Intelligence Committee, headed the Congressional Black Caucus, and was the first African Americans to serve on the House Appropriations Committee.
On the Web: